The Talk Show – April 2017

Host: Glenn Guzzo
You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that.   And the display format below works better that way.
Reminder: Send us your “‘Great Moments in Strat” – your playing experiences that you just have to share.
I recently finished your book and it was outstanding. It was well written, informative, and a joy to read. You made it easy to visualize many passages in the book. I felt as if I were sitting in the ratings meeting and a witness to some of Irving Richman’s adventures. Part of his life could be a successful television show; what a character. How about another Strat book?
Strat-O-Matic college football is a lot of fun with more big plays than the pro game. I noticed that the computer coach only uses the lead running back the whole game. Did you notice that during your replays and is there something I can do so the computer coach utilizes most of the backs, as the pro computer coach does?
Kevin Hardy
Thanks, Kevin! Strat-O-Matic Fanatics was a joy to report and write and I am thrilled that you experienced the joy by reading it. There will be a time for another book. I am just going to need the time, which means putting aside other things. Some of those things have to help put my daughter through law school!
When I last did a replay with the college football game, the CM did change running backs when the starter was in a fatigue state from over-use. That was true for the teams I coached. I don’t recall if the teams I coached against changed backs the way I’ve seen the CM do it in the pro game; I believe the opposing CM regulated use so that fatigue didn’t occur.  It may be that more college teams have a bell-cow back rather than pro teams’ use of a No. 1 back, a third-down back, a short-yardage back.
There is at least one way to distribute carries to more backs. Change players manually before the play call. Strat-O-Matic’s Bob Winberry also recommends this: Use a different computer manager that is more run-oriented.  For example, Import the "College 8" computer manager for your opponent’s offense.  It primarily uses a Pro Set formation with a strong focus on running the ball.  See the Help File topic "College/Pro Game Differences" for a complete list of college-compatible computer managers.
I thought the card set was going to include an extra Schwarber card based on his WS stats.  Mine had an extra Kyle card but no World Series stats. Is that right?  I saw your post on the web and was excited to see the idea of this extra card.
Kevin Oosterhouse
Schwarber did not have many plate appearances and ordinarily would not qualify for a card. But because of his prominence in the Series, his 2016 card is based on his combined stats for the regular season and the World Series.
Two of my buddies and I were looking to have a little Strat baseball tourney and were looking for some ideas on how to choose teams. Go with stock teams from the same season, choose teams from different seasons, draft all-stars from certain time period? Wanted to get an expert’s suggestion.
I always seem to take forever to come up with ideas for a solitaire replay with C &D. I just saw someone say they took top 8 teams from 77, did a little draft to add players and played 50 games.  That seems interesting.  Again, what suggestions do you have.
Ted Makarick, playing since 1977
Concerning your indecision, Ted, your “paralysis” is quite common. At some point, the best advice is, “Just play.” Some gamers could finish a project – or two – in the time it takes to choose between the many they might like. All the ideas you mention here are familiar. In my 54 years of playing SOM (all five games), I have tried all your ideas and enjoyed them all. The best recommendation is: Do what you please, and you only have to choose the order – don’t stop at one!
Adding a bit of my experience, when it comes to stock team play, I prefer one of three ways: 1) a World Series replay, 2) a single-team or full-league complete replay (154 or 162 games each) or 3) a 60-game season. I’ve found that after 60 games (you could make it a different number if you demand a balanced schedule), I know every team’s players, strengths and weaknesses quite well. Why play 60 instead of a full season with full-season stats? I have more seasons than I have time to replay fully. This way, I get to play with three seasons in not much more time than it would take to play one. Here’s another way I’ve done it with the board game: Replay the full season of the top three teams in an eight-team league. That will give you a full-season with the pennant contenders and 66 games each with the others. Doing that with a 10-team league would give you 54 games for each of the non-contenders.
Draft-league play offers three advantages: It levels the playing field so that all gamers begin the league with an equal chance. It allows you to use all the players you want, rather than a selection of stock teams that will leave some top players on the shelf. It tests your general-manager’s ability as well as managerial ability … A friend and I tried a hybrid with SOM Basketball once. We each drafted one of the top eight teams. Then we each drafted one of the next-best eight teams. We combined our choices by using 12 players, but no more than two from the second drafted team. That was enough to make the scores more like NBA All-Star games so, while playing the games was fun, as playing Strat always is, we didn’t use that format again.
1 – I assume the "1998 Baseball 7 Team Card Set" set was successful since it’s now sold out. 
Is Strat thinking of making any similar sets with the best teams of a given year, or reissuing the same 1998 set again?
2 – Just my 2 cents…  I’ve read in your column and elsewhere some dissatisfaction from gamers about the card "patterns." While I certainly don’t want all players on the same team to have most of their hits in the same column, I really don’t care about card patterns. It’s all about dice probabilities (math) and I don’t care where the hit chances are located.
3 – Add my vote for wanting to see 1968 super advanced season. 
4 – I may have mentioned this years ago, but batters do not necessarily get HBP from lefties and righties at the same frequency. Quite often, lefty batters get hit at a much higher rate when facing lefty pitchers (and righties vs. righties). I wish strat would not distribute the HBP chances evenly on the advanced side.  
e.g., 1997 Biggio: 11 HBP chances vs. lefties & righties.  HBP 5 vs lefties in 171 PAs; 29 vs. righties in 573 PAs (34 HBP for the season). So he was hit at twice the rate when facing righties.
I could also make a case for the gbA vs. lefties and righties. e.g., Ellsbury 2011: 10 gbA chances vs lefties & righties, yet he hit into 4 DPs vs. each, although he had 509 PAs vs. righties and only 223 PAs vs. lefties.
5 – I can’t believe the 49 Doerr is a 2b-2 (he was a "1" in 1948). 
His range factor per 9 innings was better in 49, plus he turned a lot more DPs.  I could understand if his basic side was a 2 due to a lot more errors (although, not that many for 1949), but certainly not his advanced side. His fielding WAR clearly led the AL in 49.
Larry Kapit, Coral Springs, FL
Good questions all, Larry, worth much more than your two cents.
7-team baseball sets: Actually, that 1998 mini-set was not successful, SOM reports. It sold out because it was a short run, an early test of digital printing. We should not expect more baseball sets like that unless/until the company finds the elusive solution to affordable niche printing.
Card patterns: I appreciate the value of card aesthetics very much and understand that some of us like things “the way they were” and find it more exciting to see an uninterrupted block of hits. That certainly looks impressive – aesthetics, and perhaps it even makes the great cards more memorable. But as you say, the pattern doesn’t change the card’s value and the out chance amidst a forest of hits adds drama when the roll is in that column. The “newer” card patterns – long established by now – could even be explained as consistent with the way SOM has done many things since Day One. That is, to provide variety in teammates’ cards. The fact that it won’t always be a hit when you roll in, say, the 3-4 to 3-10 range is consistent with the idea that each team’s batters have multiple patterns to begin with.
1968:  Always eager for this, I am growing more excited about the possibility. I grew up in Detroit in the ‘60s, so that’s one big reason. Unlike most teams in ’68, that Tigers team can hit, and I’d like to see how that team plays against successful Super Advanced teams from other seasons.  It just might turn out that the ’68 Tigers belong in a group of under-rated champs such as the ’48 Indians and ’57 Braves. Those two can play with anyone, yet we are much more likely to hear about the glory of the ’27 Yankees, ’53 Dodgers, ’61 Yankees and more recent champs.
Lefty-righty HBP and gbA:  Always concerned about keeping his games easy to play as well as statistically accurate, Hal Richman made an early decision when developing the Advanced game – that gamers would most value lefty-righty splits for traditional stats. I’m not certain that then, 1972, the stats for lefty-righty splits were even available for HBP and DPs. Today, it’s probably a programming consideration to make the changes you advocate. It could be done, but with more effort that we’d imagine because of the existing computer code. That makes it a classic tradeoff in where SOM’s programming time is best spent.
Doerr: You’ve made an excellent case for him. As a veteran and perceptive gamer, you probably know that SOM never has relied on statistics alone for its fielding range ratings. In the case of ’49 Doerr, the day-by-day reading on that season indicates that Doerr had a very rough time of it in the first half of the season before returning to his excellent form. We look back at the stats today and say he was the best there was in the ’49 AL, but that was not the conclusion by the people watching every day for a large chunk of that season as it was being played.
Hi again, Glenn … what an excellent recent edition of The Talk Show! What I like best about The Talk Show is that when people ask all these questions they don’t come off as if they’re complaining – they obviously love the game and have ideas on how to improve it.
That said (you knew a question was coming, didn’t you?), here’s mine: Why does Strat not issue separate cards if a player is traded within his league during the season? Prime case in point is Fernando Rodney last season, who had a stupefying 0.31 ERA with the Padres (which would have been one of the all-time GREAT cards) before being traded to Florida, where he compiled a 5.89 ERA – leading to his total card’s 3.44 ERA. This has always mystified me as it does not accurately reflect that player’s results on either team. I know I’ve asked you this in the past but at that time you only stated that Strat doesn’t create separate cards for players in this situation but I’m curious about the reason.
Chris Bacchi, Woodridge, IL
I may be saying more than I know with this answer, but based on what I do know, I believe the main reason is that when a player changes teams within a league, the competition he faces isn’t much different statistically for the short time he is with one or both teams. We can debate the consequence of that judgment, and of course some of us do when the player’s performance varies so much between teams, especially when he is an important player on a championship contender.  When I published STRAT FAN, we published a card set of some such players – two cards each for such as 1964 Lou Brock (Cubs and Cardinals), 1993 Rickey Henderson (A’s and Blue Jays) and 1993 Fred McGriff (Padres and Braves). That issue sold out swiftly, so that’s another data point in support of your suggestion. In a variety of ways, SOM has increased the size of its baseball card sets to include more players (combination cards, bonus cards, etc.). Maybe this idea will come to pass.
Love your page on the site.  And the Talk Show as well. 
Is there a place where I can tell what seasons are available in specific formats?  Super Advanced, Advanced, Deluxe, etc?  I’d like to upgrade some of the seasons I have, but I don’t want to upgrade something unnecessarily.
Also, I see a number of seasons requiring SOM 2017 to play.  But I’m not sure they’ve been upgraded.  For example, 1978, 1983, 1991 and 1992 all require 2017.  Is this due to upgrading those seasons to a higher format?
Bink Stanley, Gilbert  AZ
Check your game folder for a .pdf file called “Strat-O-Matic Baseball Features by Season.”
The seasons you bought previously should work with the latest editions of the game. However, after the company sells its initial allotment of authorization codes, its resupply will work only with the latest version of the game. So any seasons with the “Requires Version 2017 or higher to play” on the order screen does require the latest version of the game.
A pitcher gives up quite a bit of triples versus a batter who hit no triples and it lands on triple for the pitcher’s card. There should be something like the weak and normal power for homeruns but with triples as well.
Also, anytime I play with the Colorado Rockies the hitters play better on the road than they would in real life because half of their card is stats from Coors Field. Vice Versa for pitchers. I feel for Colorado and maybe even other teams that play in hitter friendly ballparks there should be something that decreases the hitter’s cards and increases the pitcher’s card. I understand that there is the ballpark chart for homeruns and singles but I feel maybe there could be even more change.
Andrew Horwath
For board-game play, here is what I do: For batters who hit 0 triples, and for any batter who had only 1 triple for the season AND has a triple chance on his batting card, then any triple off the pitcher card is a double.
The Windows game already deals with this when its max rule for Doubles/Triples options is activated. From the Help File:
1) Ballpark doubles and triples are added for all AL and NL seasons.
2) The ability to guard the lines to prevent extra base hits late in the game is available.
3) Excess triple problem is resolved.  Players who hit below 1/2 the league mean of triples will now perform properly as these extra triples will be replaced with doubles.  For instance, a player who hit no triples will not get any triples directly off a pitchers card (these will be turned into doubles), however the small possibility of a triple occurring from the fielding chart still remains.
Regarding your Coors effect, the ballpark ratings adjust for batting average and home-run power, so I am unsure how much more we ought to build in without over-complicating the ratings, card design and game play. To consider more, I think we’d have to see data from a variety of full-season replays to know whether your experience is a trend or a blip.
As shown above, however, Windows game users have the option of also adjusting doubles and triples by ballpark – a feature that is not available in the board game because the game company has determined that it would clutter the cards with additional symbols and hurt play value.